Deferments kept Donald Trump step ahead of the draft

July 23, 2015 10:36 am


was medically disqualified from the armed forced. Photo / Getty Images

A few weeks after his 22nd birthday, Donald Trump received a notice
from the Government. On July 9, 1968, his local draft board had
scrawled a “1A” beside his name in its handwritten ledger, classifying
him as available for unrestricted military service.
For the
previous four years, Trump had avoided the draft – and the possibility
of being sent to fight in the Vietnam War – by obtaining four separate
deferments so he could study at Fordham University and the University of
Pennsylvania. With his college days over, he was suddenly vulnerable to
On September 17, 1968, he reported for an armed
forces physical examination and was medically disqualified, according to
the ledger from his local Selective Service System draft board in
Jamaica, New York. The ledger does not detail why Trump failed the exam –
the Selective Service destroyed medical records and individual
files after the draft ended in 1973.

In recent days, Trump, a Republican presidential candidate,
and his campaign have said that he received the medical deferment
because he had bone spurs in his feet. But they have given shifting
accounts that are at odds with the few remaining documents in his
Selective Service file.
Trump has given limited information about
the nature of his medical ailment from 1968 that left him classified as
“1-Y,” or unqualified for duty except in the case of a national
On Sunday, Trump said he had a bone spur in his foot
but couldn’t recall which one. He told reporters to research his draft
records. Later that day, his campaign said he had bone spurs in both of
his heels.
Trump’s draft board records show that he had another
armed forces physical two years earlier, on December 15, 1966. Although
the ledger does not spell out the results, he was not granted a medical
deferment at the time – indicating that he was found fit for duty.
Trump registered for the draft at 18 in 1964, he had just graduated.
Almost immediately, as he enrolled at Fordham, he was granted the first
of his four education deferments. In 1968, Trump obtained his medical
deferment at a time when the Vietnam War was intensifying and the
military needed a wave of new conscripts. To help meet the demand, a
national draft lottery was held in December 1969. Men born between 1946
and 1950 were assigned a draft number – based on the order in which
their birthdates were pulled randomly out of a jar. Trump, who was born
in 1946, and his campaign have given conflicting explanations about how
he came to be protected from the draft that year. Trump has cited his
medical deferment and the bone spurs in his feet. But his campaign says
that he simply lucked out in the 1969 lottery.
The draft board
ledger states that his medical deferment remained in place from 1968
until 1972, when it was changed to a similar classification: 4-F, or not
qualified for service.

Anger at politicians driving the Trump surge

A lot of observers are asking what do people see in the guy?
lot, as it turns out. On a trip to rural upstate New York I was
surprised by the intensity of support for Donald Trump among friends and
family. In many cases, it boiled down to a simple fact: they were
Angry at President Barack Obama, angry at congressional
leaders, and angry at the political establishment as a whole. And
they’re not alone – surveys show that anger towards the Government,
particularly among Republicans, has been rising over the course of
Obama’s two terms in office. Trump is currently in the best position to
channel it. All of the other major Republican candidates are career
politicians, firmly ensconced in the party establishment that so many
voters have grown to distrust. Trump is the only big-name candidate who
can claim to be an “outsider”. A lot of voters want an outsider who can
shake things up, who isn’t afraid to speak the truth even if it offends
and has proven leadership abilities.
Whether Trump can sustain this through 2016 is a different question. His resiliency has been surprising.
Would Americans vote a reality TV billionaire into the White House? It doesn’t seem likely. Yet when Terminator 3
came out in July 2003 it didn’t seem plausible that the star would win
the governor’s mansion of one of the nation’s largest states just four
months later, either.

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